Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Adapted by John Hewer
Directed by Jonathan Rigby
John Hewer as Tony Hancock
Simon Weeds as Bill Kerr / John Le Mesurier
Amy Holmes as Andree Melly / Marla Landi
Luke Adamson as Sidney James
Christian Darwood as Kenneth Williams
Written by the perennial duo Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, this show marks the very first time these scripts have been performed for nearly sixty years, when they were first broadcast featuring “the lad himself” Tony Hancock with Bill Kerr, Sidney James, Andrée Melly and Kenneth Williams.
This new play features the radio episode A Winter’s Tale and the television episode The Italian Maid, which have been especially adapted for the stage by arrangement and approval with Tessa Le Bars Management and Classic Comedy Scripts.
Hancock’s Half Hour – The Lost Episodes toured the Lincolnshire area in September 2012, visiting Franklin College Grimsby, Old Nick Theatre Gainsborough, Acorn Theatre Worksop, Guildhall Arts Centre Grantham, Phoenix Theatre Bawtry, Riverhead Theatre Louth and Lincoln Drill Hall.
The production transferred to the White Bear Theatre, in Kennington London for a weeks run over the festive season. The show sold out every night (with an extra performance scheduled on the final night.)
The spirit of Tony Hancock triumphed and captivated an audience during a performance of two “lost” episodes of the eponymously titled “Hancock’s Half Hour.”
Nearly 60 years after being first broadcast on radio and TV, they offered a 21st century audience the chance to savour a legendary comedian.
Hambledon Productions, a professional local theatre company, secured the rights and the blessing of famous scriptwriters Galton and Simpson to make this remarkable opportunity possible.
They also enticed Jonathan Rigby, an actor with West End stage success, to serve as their director.
The first episode, “A Winter’s Tale”, saw the theatre in Franklin College transformed into a 1950’s BBC Light Entertainment radio studio.
In a nice twist, we travelled back in time and became the audience at that original live broadcast, receiving a briefing from the producer and able to watch the sound effects technician at work.
John Hewer, co-founder of Hambledon Productions, played “the lad himself” as he went on “olliday” to Brighton with predictably diastrous results.
For the second episode, “The Italian Maid”, curtains opened to reveal the TV stage set of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam and further mayhem followed as Hancock fought to win Silvana’s (Amy Holmes) attention.
To my mind, John Hewer superbly captured Hancock’s mannerisms, his disdainful looks, intonationof voice and that sense of pomposity that so endeared him to audiences.
Christian Darwood stepped into shoes once occupied by Kenneth Williams, delivering an instantly familiar nasal twang.
Meanwhile, Simon Weeds gave us an authentic sounding Australian accent as Bill Kerr, and Luke Adamson captured Sid James’ signature laugh.
Six decades on, this new generation of actors successfully revived memories of stars from yesteryear, the non-stop laughter testimony to their performance and the enduring freshness of the scripts that repel the passage of time.
Trevor Ekins, 14th September 2012